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Republican hardliner moves to oust McCarthy over deal to avert shutdown

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A hardline Republican lawmaker said he would move to oust Kevin McCarthy, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, next week for working with Democrats to avoid a government shutdown in an eleventh-hour deal.

Matt Gaetz, a representative from Florida, on Sunday said he would force a vote on removing McCarthy from his leadership post in the Republican-controlled lower chamber of the legislative branch by filing a “motion to vacate”.

“Speaker McCarthy made an agreement with House conservatives in January and since then he’s been in brazen, repeated material breach of that agreement,” he told CNN. “This agreement that he made with Democrats to really blow past a lot of the spending guardrails we had set up is a last straw.”

He added: “I think we need to rip off the Band-Aid. I think we need to move on with new leadership that can be trustworthy.”

Gaetz’s latest attack, which follows weeks of threats, comes after US lawmakers narrowly avoided a government shutdown that would have shuttered a broad array of government services, furloughed hundreds of thousands of federal workers and left military troops without pay.

The deal keeps the government funded for another 45 days but leaves out billions of dollars of aid for Ukraine. It came about after an abrupt reversal by McCarthy, who teamed up with Democrats to overcome staunch opposition from a number of intransigent Republicans.

The House eventually voted 335-91 on the deal. All but one Democratic House member joined with the majority of Republicans in supporting the measure, while 90 Republicans broke with McCarthy in opposing the deal.

The Senate later voted 88-9 on Saturday night to approve the bill, and President Joe Biden signed it shortly before the midnight deadline.

Some House Democrats on Sunday also signalled their support to expel McCarthy, with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York saying she would “absolutely” vote in favour of unseating him.

“I think Kevin McCarthy is a very weak Speaker,” she told CNN. “He clearly has lost control of his caucus. He has brought the United States and millions of Americans to the brink, waiting until the final hour to keep the government open and even then only issuing a 45-day extension.”

Another Democrat in the House, Hillary Scholten of Michigan, would not say whether she would vote against McCarthy, but noted “there are some serious trust issues here”.

“We’re going to need some concrete guidelines in place if he’s going to want Democrats to come to the table and help save his speakership,” she told CNN.

This is not the first challenge McCarthy has faced. He was elected Speaker in January after 15 votes stretching over five days.

Gaetz predicted that Democrats would “bail out Kevin McCarthy”.

“So, this is an exercise to show the American people who really governs you and how that governing occurs,” he told ABC News on Sunday.

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